The Heat Is Online

Deep Freeze Kills More than 80 People in Europe

Big chill brings misery to Europe

BBCnews.com, Dec. 22, 2009

Much of Europe continues to face severe transport upheaval as a cold snap sweeps the continent.

More than 80 people have died across Europe, including at least 42 in Poland and another 27 in Ukraine who have frozen to death.

Another 13 people died in car accidents in Austria, Finland and Germany, where temperatures dropped well below zero.

Air, rail and road transport has been severely disrupted across northern Europe and more snow is expected.

The disruption has come during the busy Christmas holiday season, affecting many people's travel plans.

Stranded travellers

The bitterly cold weather across much of the continent combined with heavy snow in some areas has caused cancellations and delays at airports and forced train lines to close.

But after three days of cancelled services, Eurostar trains began running between Brussels, Paris and London.

The backlog of thousands of stranded travellers was expected to take several days to clear.

Domestic rail services across the UK have been severely delayed, with buses replacing trains in many areas.

British Airways said the majority of its flights were operating again after it had cancelled all its domestic and European flights from the main London airport, Heathrow, on Monday.

Other airlines, including EasyJet and Ryanair, have cancelled dozens of flights and told travellers to expect delays.

Frankfurt airport, Europe's third largest, re-opened on Tuesday morning after closing on Monday because of icy conditions.

In France, Belgium and the Netherlands, airport operators cleared runways after thick snowfall caused major disruption to flight patterns.

Road traffic in the UK was severely disrupted across the UK, including the south-east where roads were gridlocked late on Monday after numerous crashes in heavy snowfall.

Major roads elsewhere in Europe were blocked after some regions had snowfall of up to 50cm (20in).

Homeless deaths

The Eurostar crisis prompted the French transport ministry to order an investigation into the shutdown.

Meanwhile Eurotunnel - which carries vehicles under the Channel between England and France - cancelled day trip bookings on Tuesday and warned that heavy traffic levels were expected through the day.

In Poland, police appealed for people to help if they came across homeless or drunk people lying outside, as temperatures dropped towards -20C in some areas.

Most of the 42 people who froze to death in the country over the weekend were homeless, police said.

Cold-related deaths were also reported in France, where two homeless people died.

Treacherous travel conditions also caused havoc for rail services.

Fifty people were injured when a train hit a buffer in the Croatian city of Zagreb, while 36 were injured when a passenger train derailed in Paris after a car slipped on ice and knocked concrete on to the tracks.

Temperatures are forecast to rise later in the week.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/europe/8425805.stm

Dozens die in European cold snap

BBCNews.com, Dec. 21, 2009

Dozens of people have died across Europe as days of snow storms and sub-zero temperatures swept the continent, causing traffic chaos for millions.

At least 29 people froze to death in Poland as temperatures fell far below freezing, while in southern Germany a figure of -33C (-27F) was recorded.

Moscow said it was deploying 9,000 snow ploughs to clear the city's streets.

Air, rail and road transport links were disrupted across northern Europe where more snow was expected in coming days.

Eurostar services between the UK and the continent were suspended on Monday for a third day, as the company launched an immediate review into train breakdowns which have stranded and delayed tens of thousands of passengers since Friday.

'Saturation point'

The crisis prompted French President Nicolas Sarkozy to call the head of national rail carrier SNCF - the majority stakeholder in Eurostar - to order a normal resumption of service by Tuesday.

Meanwhile Eurotunnel - which carries vehicles under the Channel between England and France - said its terminal at Folkestone was at "saturation point" and closed its shuttle car service to new arrivals.

In Poland, police appealed for people to help if they came across homeless or drunk people lying outside, as temperatures dropped towards -20C in some areas.

Most of the 42 people who froze to death in the country over the weekend were homeless, police said.

Meanwhile, one restaurant owner offered tens of thousands of homeless people a hot meal in Krakow's main square.

"The food is not the only important thing," restaurateur Janusz Kosciuszko was quoted as telling Euronews.

"What is also important is that these people know that someone is thinking about them."

Treacherous travel conditions on roads and railway lines caused a spike in accidents across the continent, with several people reportedly killed in accidents in Austria and Germany.

Fifty people were injured when a train hit a buffer in the Croatian city of Zagreb, while 36 were injured when a passenger train derailed in Paris.

Parts of the continent saw 20in (50cm) of snow over the weekend.

In France, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands, airport operators struggled to clear runways amid thick snowfall, with major disruption to flight patterns.

In France, a second wave of snowstorms hit the country's north on Sunday with Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport warning as many as one in five flights was likely to be cancelled on Monday.

Germany's third largest airport - in Duesseldorf - was also closed because of Sunday's heavy snow.

In Belgium, the three biggest airports - Brussels, Charleroi and Liege - were completely shut. Severe delays and cancellations were reported at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport.

Temperatures were forecast to rise later in the week.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/europe/8424953.stm

Subfreezing weather batters Europe, causing deaths

The Associated Press, Dec . 20, 2009

WARSAW, Poland - Snowstorms and subfreezing temperatures have battered Europe, killing 15 people in Poland alone overnight and wreaking havoc on air, train and car travelers from the Nordics to Italy on the last weekend before Christmas.

France's civil aviation authority ordered the cancellation of 40 percent of flights out of Paris' Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports Sunday through the mid-afternoon.

In Britain, officials at Manchester Airport — Britain's busiest outside the London area — said its only runway was being closed for emergency snow clearance and deicing work.

Belgium's three biggest airports, Brussels, Charleroi and Liege, were completely shut, while travelers at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport faced delays and cancellations.

There was trouble on the railways too, with trains from Belgium to Italy delayed by icy, frozen tracks.

Eurostar trains through the Channel Tunnel weren't running Sunday as officials tried to pinpoint the problem that led four trains to come to a halt in the tunnel linking England and France, leaving passengers stranded for hours Saturday.

Officials have speculated that the quick transition from the icy cold of northern France to the relative warmth of the tunnel might have caused condensation that interfered with the trains' electrical systems.

The Eurostar shutdown has stranded more than 50,000 passengers in France and Britain over the past two days.

So far the cold snap has been deadliest in Poland, where 15 people froze to death between Saturday and Sunday as temperatures fell as low as minus 20 Celsius (minus 4 Fahrenheit) overnight in some places.

Police appealed Sunday to Poles to alert police if they come across homeless or drunk people lying outdoors, attempting to lower the number of people who die each winter from the bitter cold.

In Austria, authorities reported two people froze to death as they tried to make their way home after evenings out. Both were found in the southern province of Styria, where temperatures fell below minus 20 degrees Celsius.

A homeless Polish man was found dead Saturday in the French Mediterranean port city of Marseille, where temperatures fell to around freezing.

In Germany, temperatures sank to between minus 15 and minus 20 Celsius (5 and minus 4 Fahrenheit) overnight across much of the country. A homeless man in Mannheim apparently froze to death early Saturday as he slept near disused railway tracks after drinking, police said.

In Italy, where winters are generally milder, heavy snow and subfreezing temperatures were causing havoc. In Sicily, the Defense Ministry dispatched helicopters to ferry civil protection crews to people in need of urgent medical care.

Italian farm lobby Coldiretti warned that the ice-and-snow-blanketed roads were delaying the distribution of milk and produce while the freezing temperatures risked damaging fruit trees, olive groves and vineyards.

Major football matches were canceled in Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34497831/ns/world_news/

50,000 travelers affected by Eurostar break downs

 The Associated Press, Dec . 20, 2009

LONDON - The only rail link between Britain and France was closed for testing Sunday, after a series of breakdowns trapped thousands in a tunnel for hours in claustrophobic conditions, train company Eurostar said.

The breakdowns of four trains in the Channel Tunnel on Friday evening and ensuing cancellations through the weekend were expected to affect some 50,000 people during the busy holiday travel season.

Passengers were stranded in the dark without food, water or air conditioning for more than 12 hours after the breakdowns, which were initially blamed on severe weather.

The company is running special trains through the tunnels in a bid to pinpoint the problem, press officer Anelle Mouhaddib said Sunday. She declined to say whether any trains had successfully made it through the tunnel, but a series of trains dispatched from London and Paris on Saturday evening were either canceled or broke down.

In addition to the 2,000 people trapped in the tunnel Friday night, a further 31,000 had had their trips canceled Saturday, and 26,000 more were expected to be affected Sunday, Mouhaddib said.

Eurostar's executives have offered apologies, refunds, free travel and more.

Officials have said that the quick transition from the icy cold of France, which is suffering some of its worst winter weather in years, to the relative warmth of the tunnel could have interfered with the trains' electrical systems. But the company's chief operating officer, Nicolas Petrovic, said the exact cause remains unclear.

"It's all a bit of a mystery and the company, and indeed a lot of people, appear baffled by it," said Nigel Harris, the managing editor of Rail magazine.

"What is really puzzling about this is the fact that it is happening now, even though the trains have been exposed to cold weather over the last few years, he said.

Comparable trains in France have "been going even longer than Eurostar without experiencing any of these cold-weather problems," he said.

Eurostar was making no promises to passengers trying to make it to their destinations before Christmas.

Service will be resumed "as soon as possible," Mouhaddib said.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34487723/ns/business/

 

© 2009 MSNBC.com